Christmas is a special time of year for many people. Food, drink, family and gifts over the month makes for a jolly month and it is also the perfect time for reflection and planning. It is the perfect time for you to start planning for the year ahead.
It is also the perfect chance to take some much needed time off. Running your business is important, but family comes first so the key is balance. You know you can’t completely neglect your blog and social media for a full month so how do you take that time off at Christmas and make sure your hard work over the past 11 months doesn’t tumble like a house of cards?
This is how I make December work for me.
Decide on a finishing date
Pick a date where you plan to stop the bulk of your work. I don’t take on new clients in December, it is way too messy. Instead I agree deals with potential clients that see us start work in January. For Mark Dalton Media the Christmas break starts on the 16th December. Early right?
Next Friday is the last day for new content this year, I don’t completely stop on that date. I am still accessible to any client issues up to the 24th and then if they have an extreme emergency they can reach out any day they like by shooting me a text, even on Christmas day.
Now thankfully clients are far too busy running around in December and it is actually a very slow month, we get very few issues coming our way if any at all. The important thing is to settle on a date when you plan on stopping the bulk of your work and start enjoying the holidays.
Re-share old content
Something we have touched in before when you need to take a blogging break. The break you take at Christmas is no different, you have all that evergreen content sitting there waiting to be re-shared again.
Each day or night over Christmas take 5-10 minutes, you don’t need to lock yourself away on a computer for hours on end. 10 minutes max is all this should take, throw that evergreen content into the social sharing tool of your choice (for me that is Buffer) and let it go out the following day.
That way the content keeps flowing, remember that social media doesn’t stop for Christmas. Business is so connected online now it rarely stops at all, so you need to stay present on social platforms.
Share personal content
This one is not for everyone, though it should be. Some people want to keep social media strictly business and I respect that even if I completely disagree with it. If you want to keep social media strictly business then you don’t understand the whole “social” part of it and the connections you are trying to build will lack personality.
I’m not saying Snapchat your whole Christmas (unless you want to) but even a few small updates now and then will keep followers in the loop and people like seeing that personal content from businesses too. It makes you more human, be it a Snapchat story, a selfie on Instagram or a video on Twitter.
Adding that personal touch every once in a while can go a long long way. Stop being afraid of photo and video content, it is no longer coming – it is now here and if you want to stay in the game in future then you need to start getting on board at some point.
Take a chance to work on projects
When I stop on the 16th I don’t completely stop. I stop creating new content and I stop creating new client content (unless something pops up out of the blue which is worth creating new content for) but I am still working up to Christmas Eve.
The pace of work is different, the intensity slackens off and that is important. You need this time, remember your family comes first and your business is a close second.
From the 16th through to the 23rd I take the time to wrap up outstanding projects and either close them off completely or just make them neat and tidy for the upcoming year. There is a good week in December where I can get a lot of outstanding work cleaned and wrapped up before we hit January.
Evaluate the previous year and plan ahead
Not always an easy one if you evaluate properly. Those of you who sit down to reflect on the past 11 months and say that everything was perfect and there were no problems at all are simply kidding yourselves.
There is no such thing as a perfect year in business so look at it honestly and frankly. Have a look at what worked and how you can improve and build on that. Have a look at what didn’t work and why it didn’t work.
See if you can make changes to flip something around from not working to being a well oiled machine or decide if it is a strategy you just need to face up to, ditch it completely and move on.
Think about the current systems you have in place for planning, creating and promoting content. Do they need to be changed? Is there a way of doing things better than how you do them at the moment? Can you leave things as they are?
If you have a content calendar or an editorial calendar or anything similar for that matter (which you all really should have by now) then start planning for the upcoming year. You can plan ahead for a few months or if you are really brave and have a big vision then plan for the whole upcoming year.
Decide on a return date
Finally, make sure you pick on a date when you return to being fully active and start churning out content or working with clients again. Make sure it is a date that you stick to!
For me, I am back on Tuesday 3rd January 2017 and that is a date that I know I will stick to. It is set in stone and it is on my calendar so I know that no matter what happens I will be back on that date and ready to go again.
You may need more time off, you may need less. How long you take is up to you as long as you don’t completely neglect your social media and content over the Christmas break.